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FOUND: GOD'S WILL
PART 2

 

 

By Marsha West

August 4, 2006

NewsWithViews.com

In Found: God’s Will (Part 1) I asked the following questions: Is it possible for a Christian to know God’s will and not have to agonize over it? Should a Christian (a) make a decision without first spending hours in prayer, asking God to reveal His will? (b) avoid making a decision until he or she has a “peace about it”? (c) wait for a “sign” from God? (d) consult a psychic or a Ouija board to seek God’s guidance?

“The will of God is not meant to be a secret we must uncover,” says John MacArthur, president and featured speaker of Grace to You, “God wants us to understand His will far more than we want to understand it. He always makes His will clear to those who seek it with an obedient heart. Most of the real problem areas in the question of God's will are settled for us in Scripture.”

So, what does Scripture tell us about seeking God’s will for our lives? According to noted Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke, "There are no examples of explicitly seeking or finding God's will after Acts 1:24-26, in which the disciples drew lots to select Matthias as a replacement for Judas. There are dreams, visions, and revelations after this, but never in the context of explicitly seeking God's will. From this point onward it is not divination (seeking to probe the divine mind) but revelation given by God to His people. After Pentecost there is no instance of the church seeking God's will through any of the forms of divination? The problem of using divination today is that the techniques Christians use, like promise boxes and seeking signs are not examples offered to those living under the New Covenant. So when a believer is told to "not take a job until you have God's mind," I think he may be led astray. His faulty logic and faulty exegesis cause him to believe in divination, but there is no such biblical example to follow for Christians."[2]

Nowhere in the New Testament does God tell His followers to "seek his will." Christians are commanded to seek His kingdom and do His will.

The means God used to reveal His will before Pentecost is not normative for the church today. According to Waltke, “God does not administer His church in the same way He administered old Israel. He administered old Israel by the Mosaic Law, but we are no longer administered by that law. He administers us by the Spirit, not the Law, and this changed at Pentecost.”

God operates differently today because we are under grace, not under the Law. “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Born again Christians are controlled by the Spirit of God. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we know how to tell right from wrong. Hebrews 8:10 says, "I will put my law into their minds, and write them on their hearts."

As I stated in Part 1, God speaks to us through the pages of Scripture. “For all our talk about sola Scriptura,” says Greg Koukl, “many also hold that God speaks to them on a regular basis giving true information about Himself and specific directions for their lives. Their claim is, essentially, ‘I believe the Bible is a bona fide source of information and the Spirit also gives private information directly to me.’ The second step frequently follows the first: The personal, subjective sense of what a person thinks God is telling him trumps the objective Scripture.”

Koukl makes an important point. Should what we hear in our mind take precedence over what Scripture says? Christians will often toss out the phrase, “God told me” that they should do this or that. Or “I felt led,” or “I sensed that God wanted me to___” You fill in the blank. Televangelists, who pretend to have a direct pipeline to God, prance around in front of the TV camera, claiming to hear “word from the Lord.” At the risk of sounding negative or divisive, most televangelists teach outright heresy (I can prove it), so why would God speak to them at all? Frauds should not expect to hear from God; they should expect to be rebuked by God. But I digress.

Here’s an example of divining God’s will. Loretta wanted to change jobs so she prayed for guidance. When God didn’t answer immediately she experienced doubts and anxiety. Maybe she should stay at her current job. After being in limbo for a weeks, someone mentioned a company that was hiring and thought Loretta would be the perfect candidate. A sign from God, perhaps? Loretta applied and landed an interview. The interview went well and she knew it would be a good fit. Loretta really wanted the job, yet she felt uncertain about accepting it, as she still hadn’t heard from God. Frustrated, Loretta decided to lay out a fleece. If the company offered her the job, with a raise in salary to boot, she’d know for certain it was God’s will. Eventually the company extended an offer, which included an increase in salary--and a private office! There was no doubt in her mind that God had spoken. The fact that she had gotten everything she prayed about--and more--was the confirmation she was waiting for. Loretta also felt a peace about it.

Loretta believed she had received a confirmation from God, and she felt a peace about it, yet in the end she turned the job down. The reason? The 30-minute commute didn’t appeal to her. Does Loretta's decision mean she's out of God's will? Was Loretta ever in God's will? It's obvious that Loretta's a very confused individual.

I used the job illustration to show the lack of maturity in the Church. Loretta’s behavior is not uncommon--it's become the norm! How is it that God’s people will blithely cast Truth aside and pursue occult techniques to find the Father’s will--or to have a--deeper experience” with Him? “The customs of the people are worthless,” warned the prophet Jeremiah. Worthless? Wow. With that in mind, why are professed Christians immersing themselves in cultural customs and cleverly crafted gimmicks and paying no heed to Scripture? Perhaps these “Christians” have a said faith, and not a real faith. Truth hurts.

Today important life decisions are made based on subjective experiences instead of God’s trustworthy precepts found in His Word. Greg Koukl asks, “Does Scripture give us the liberty to assign the authority of divine fiat to our subjective experiences?” His answer is, “Nowhere does the Bible give us that liberty. It does not enjoin us to assess our feelings and then judge whether they are a manifestation of the voice of God or not.”

Can we even trust our feelings?

Koukl goes on to say, “The question is not whether or not Jesus lives in our hearts in the person of the Holy Spirit. Having believed, we've been sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. We've been baptized in the Holy Spirit. He indwells us. He convicts us of sin. He teaches us. The Holy Spirit regenerates us, washing us in the blood of Christ. He comforts us in difficult times. He confirms in our hearts that we are children of God. The Holy Spirit is in and through every part of our lives, and He ought to be. All of this is specifically taught in the Bible.

“The question is not whether there is a Holy Spirit, or whether that Holy Spirit indwells us, or whether that Holy Spirit does things for us or to us in an experiential, subjective way. All of those things are the case.

“The question is actually two-fold: Is it enough for Christians to simply say, ‘You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart. I have the confirmation of a subjective experience. I feel Jesus?’ The answer is no, it is not enough to say that--[T]he New Ager feels Jesus--Lots of people feel Jesus. They have psychological certainty that they're children of God and that they're right with God.”[2]

Many Christians fall into the same trap as the cults and New Agers. Their trust is placed in subjective experiences rather than the objective Truth of Scripture. For cultural Christians, it’s not about knowing God; it’s about experiencing God. For many believers, feelings and experiences are what matters most. Forget about reading the Bible. Excuse my bluntness, but that’s just plain dumb! How will Christians be able to discern truth from fiction if they’re biblically illiterate? The answer comes from an article I wrote on spiritual discernment, Got Meat? “A thorough study of the Bible will equip the believer with understanding and wisdom that leads to maturity. Christians who don’t take time to study are unable to differentiate between God’s purpose and desire for their lives from their own aspirations.”

Which brings me back to the burning question, What does Scripture tell us about seeking God’s will for our lives? According to John MacArthur (Plan of My Life: God’s Will), the Bible reveals that it’s God's will for all of us to be:

Saved --1 Timothy 2:3-4: This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Peter 3:9; The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Spirit-filled -- Ephesians 5:17-18: Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Sanctified -- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7: It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Submissive -- 1 Corinthians 10:31: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Peter 2:13-15: Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

Suffering -- 1 Peter 4:15-16: If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. Philippians 1:29; 29: For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him. 2 Timothy 3:12: In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

“If all those things are true in your life,” says MacArthur, “you may do whatever you want. Psalm 37:4 says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.’ That means that if you are conforming to God's will in all the five ways listed above, He will place in your heart desires that reflect His will. So do what you want to do!”[3]

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There you have it. The six qualifications for knowing the will of God are first and foremost a person must be saved. What follows is the infilling of the Spirit? sanctification (being made holy) submission to Christ’s Lordship (emptying ourselves) suffering that glorifies God. When we do these things we are demonstrating that we genuinely love God. Thus, God will give us the desires of our hearts.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1, 2). For part one click below.

Click here for part -----> 1

Footnotes:

1. Knowing the Will of God By Bruce Waltke, with Jerry MacGregor Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene OR.
2. A Private Hotline to God? By Gregory Koukl
3. The Plan of My Life: God's Will By John MacArthur

© 2006 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved

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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.

Marsha is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville Oregon.

E-mail: EMbrigade@aol.com

 


 

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Christians think they’re free to pick and choose the parts of their faith that they agree with, and toss out the rest. This helps explain why so many believers are involved in the pagan practices brought to us courtesy of the New Age movement.